TPG Telecom begins work to upgrade the PPC-1 cable in PNG

TPG Telecom begins work to upgrade the PPC-1 cable in PNG

Fixed-line teledensity in Papua New Guinea has seen little change over the past two decades.

Progress in the country’s telecom sector has come primarily from mobile networks, where accessibility has expanded considerably in recent years, with population coverage increasing from less than 3% in 2006 to more than 90% by early 2021. The two MNOs operate networks offering services based on GSM, 3G, and LTE, depending on location. GSM is prevalent in many rural and remote areas, while 3G and LTE are centred more on urban areas. GSM still represents the majority of all mobile connections.

Network deployment costs are high, partly due to the relatively low subscriber base, the difficult terrain, and the high proportion of the population living in rural areas. As a result, fixed telecom infrastructure is almost non-existent outside urban centres, leaving most of the population un-serviced. PNG is the Pacific region’s largest poorly developed telecom market, with only around 22% of its people connected to the internet.

The existing submarine cable infrastructure is insufficient to serve the country’s needs. Low international capacity has meant that internet services are expensive and slow. Internet access has improved, however, with the Coral Sea Cable System which came online in 2019. The cable links PNG to the Solomon Islands and Australia (landing at Sydney). The PIPE Pacific Cable is in the process of being upgraded to a capacity of 12Tb/s, with the work expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

In a bid to challenge the encroaching influence of China, the Australian government and Telstra jointly acquired the troubled Digicel Pacific, including the latter’s units in Fiji, Nauru, PNG, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu. As part of its efforts to promote itself in the region, and to counter the growing influence of China’s telcos, the Australian government provided the bulk of the funds to complete the deal.

By September 2021 progress had been made on the merger of the state-owned telcos Bmobile, Telikom, and DataCo, creating a more efficient vertically integrated operator.

Key developments:

  • PIPE Pacific Cable is upgraded from 8Tb/s to 12Tb/s;
  • Kumul Submarine Cable Network System 1 is lit;
  • Digitec builds out a greenfield LTE network;
  • PNG rolls out ‘Get Connected’ training with the ITU to boost digital transformation;
  • Australian government provides funds to acquire Digicel’s Pacific operations;
  • Kacific-1 satellite services are made available;
  • Report update includes an assessment of the global impact of Covid-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

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Developing Telecoms market report summaries are produced in partnership with BuddeCom, the world’s largest continually updated online telecommunications research service.

The above article is a summary of the following BuddeCom report:

Report title: Papua New Guinea - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Edition: October 2021

Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

Number of pages: 89

Companies mentioned in the report: Kumul Telikom, Telikom PNG, PNG DataCo, Bmobile (Vodafone), Digicel, Kacific Broadband Satellites

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This article is an update to a previous BuddeComm Market Report.